This summer, two River Falls High School students traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for a national Future Business Leaders of America competition.
This past year, Jessica Lindall and Olivia Miller developed an app in time for an FBLA competition. They went to the state competition in La Crosse in April, where they took fourth place. That allowed them to move on to the national competition in Baltimore.
Lindall said students were given a "situation" and were asked to create their own app to meet certain requirements.
"It needed to be an accessible app that was easy to use, and something that is for a high school library where students could check out books," she said.
The girls' app allowed students or staff to check out or reserve books, included a book calendar to let people know when their books were due, and showed events, such as a monthly book club.
Lindall and Miller started preparing in November, said teacher Chris Silver.
"They really didn't know much about mobile app programming," he said.
The girls started by researching different applications to help develop mobile apps.
Lindall said she and Miller first built a website and then used an application to turn that into a phone app.
"I am extremely proud of the students," said Silver, "For going into something they weren't that familiar with and building their confidence by their research and hard work, and also developing their soft skills to present their idea to .. .the panel of informed judges.
"I think overall they represented our school district extremely well."
Miller was not able to go to the national competition, so Kristen Scheuder joined Lindall for the presentation at the national level.
Lindall said she was proud of how the app turned out.
"I was unaware that I was able to create an app, because I always thought that it would be hard because I didn't really know or understand coding," she said.
It didn't all go smoothly. Lindall said working with the app-converter application proved to be challenging, because the free version of the application they used only gave them 48 hours to use it.
Lindall said the girls ended up paying for a basic plan to be able to download the app.
Once the app was complete, the girls had to prepare a presentation and explain the app and all its features to judges.
The presentation had a time limit of seven minutes,.
"We had to present smoothly," Lindall said. "Then afterwards they would ask us questions about the app and I brought my iPad so they could test it out."
She's not sure yet what she wants to do when she graduates, but Lindall, a 16-year-old junior, said she has an interest in media and communications.
Meanwhile, she plans to enter another FBLA project next year.